Kirkus Review of “The Jinxed Pirate”

“Two protagonists struggle against power-hungry tyrants and their own cursed natures in this sequel.

“The Graylands is a constellation of lawless towns, strewn between the Two Empires, which are waging war with each other. Katrina Lamont, an alcoholic and former Chosen One, drifts from one dismal watering hole to the next, hoping to smother memories of losing her kingdom, Vigor, 10 years ago. But the specter of Jagger Ryggs, thief and love of her life, persists. Pirate Krutch Leeroy, meanwhile, is a mild-mannered drifter cursed as a youth by a sorceress who mistook him for a great warrior. Thanks to her spellwork, the pirate’s name is whispered throughout the Graylands with fear and respect. After sleeping off yet another night of trouble that only a pirate lord can find, he awakes at a mission and meets the vivacious, adventure-starved Audra Fay. Elsewhere in the Graylands are the wealthy Synclaire siblings, Deck, Lock, and Cassie. They left Vigor when the savage Armand Tyrell took power. Can any of these personalities resist the pull of Seba, a city crawling with human—and goblin—filth run by war profiteer Sebastian Clock, who hunts for a gauntlet enchanted with dark magic? In this second trip through the Graylands, Walsh (The Ghost Princess, 2015) takes readers on the scenic route through a hellish fusion of Tolkien and HBO’s Deadwood. And despite the potential for overwrought battles among orcs, wizards, and succubi (Lily Blackthorn makes a welcome return), the author proves that character is king. Katrina’s desire to find Vigorian survivors—or any kindred spirit—is heartbreaking. Likewise, Krutch’s epiphany that ‘maybe it was time he stopped running and made his curse his power’ is as thrilling as most sword fights. That said, the action is superb (‘the fat man was split open where his neck met his right shoulder. His head curved to the side with a baffled look on his face’). Fans of the first novel should expect a more leisurely plot that widens the physical and emotional scopes of Walsh’s dusty realm.

“An action-packed, phantasmagoric tavern crawl.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

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“The Jinxed Pirate” Now Available

Here we go…the next chapter in the Graylands saga is up for sale.

Being dead inside isn’t for everyone…
bookcover2
Graylands is where people go when they don’t want to be found.
Within this unsettled country of drifters and outlaws is a city where the worst of the worst gather. A place of thieves, brigands, and murderers known as Seba. In Seba, law is an illusion and order is kept through cruelty and bloodshed.

On the run from Sentry Elite and bounty hunters, supposed pirate Krutch Leeroy finds himself in this bloody city where his infamous reputation garners him the attention of Seba’s various feuding powers. Despite his efforts to lay low, Krutch is soon caught in the center of backstabbing schemes and deadly plots.
Meanwhile, after the disaster on the Blind Cliffs, fallen princess Katrina Lamont finds herself nearing rock bottom. Her drinking and temper worse than ever, she sets out on a desperate quest to find what remains of her people. Her journey will also lead her to Seba, where she will tread the line between salvation and damnation.

Amidst this are the Synclaires—a family just moved to Graylands in the hope of a fresh start. However, chance of fate and rash decisions will draw the family into a sinister plot that threatens to bring tragedy and doom to their door.
As Krutch, Katrina, and the Synclaires face threats from all sides, they will each unwittingly find themselves caught in a battle that may destroy the delicate balance keeping Seba from consuming itself in chaos.

Paperback copies are $16.95 (plus shipping) and can be purchased on Amazon and Createspace.
It is also available on Kindle for $2.99

Hope you enjoy.

“The Jinxed Pirate” Excerpt: Lily Blackthorn

Getting closer to the release of The Jinxed Pirate.
In the meantime, here’s another preview checking in on Lily as she prepares to leave Graylands and finds her first obstacle….


The city of Beacon was something of a border between the more populated and developed Northern Regions and the rest of Graylands. It served as the last stop for pilgrims heading into the frontier and the first glimpse of true civilization for travelers coming north. It was a vast collection of stone buildings and towers that stretched high into the air. It had been built in a hilly area, and parts of the city raised up and down, looming or sinking depending on where you were.

Like the other cities in the Northern Regions, Beacon was connected to the only working railroad. Although becoming more common for the rest of the world, travel by train in Graylands was limited to the far north between the more dense cities. Some talked of extending the railroads into the frontier, but no progress had been made.

The Beacon train station was calm this morning. The air was cool, but comfortable, and the sky was pink with a golden glow on the horizon. Most of the passengers kept to themselves as they waited for the train to arrive. It was scheduled to head northeast, stopping briefly in Lacon before continuing on to Gerritsen, which was the end of the line.

A woman walked up and down the station’s platform. She appeared to be in her early twenties, and her ash-gray hair went to her shoulders. Her pale skin was striking, as was her eager smile and sparkling crimson eyes. Her beaming presence had an effect on the people around her. Everyone she passed seemed to cheer up a bit. Children waved at her. Men and women smiled and nodded as she walked by.

Lily Blackthorn knew there was a reason for that beyond simple good cheer, but she didn’t care. She was too excited to stay still. She was happy and didn’t mind if she made other people around her happy. Today was the beginning of her new life.
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“The Jinxed Pirate” Excerpt: Katrina Lamont

Another quick excerpt from the next volume of Graylands.
This time, we catch up on Katrina facing an awkward reunion with an old ally….


The smell of blood and fire was overwhelming. She could hear screams echoing all around her.

Rasul Kader had exploited her past and manipulated her with the intention of selling her to Jacob Daredin. The mad sorcerer sought to sacrifice her, believing her death would make him a god. Unfortunately for Kader and Daredin, their manipulations unleashed a fury she’d kept hidden since her people died. She left destruction in her wake, gladly slaughtering Daredin’s followers before taking her time on Kader himself. In her anger, she allowed a dragon to be reborn.

She was standing in a narrow corridor filled with smoke, and at the far end, a figure emerged. He stood like an implacable juggernaut, unfazed by the carnage and chaos around him. His thick body was riddled with scars and burns, and his skin was a rotting shade of gray. Sickly strands of light hair hung from his balding scalp. His ragged black clothes were stained and filthy. In one gloved hand, he held a length of jagged metal, dripping with blood and meat.

She took a step forward, and so did he. She raised her sword—the black-bladed sabre, also dripping with blood—and he raised his own blade as well. She lowered the sabre, and he lowered his weapon. She took another step, and he did, too.

The Enforcer stared at her, his face hidden beneath his black mask. The eyes revealed nothing but empty darkness. She felt his gaze, and though it chilled her to her core, she couldn’t look away. There was something there—something she couldn’t place. A familiarity. A kinship.

She wanted to ask, Who are you? But the only word that came out was, “Why?”

The Enforcer tilted his head in seeming curiosity. He then removed his mask, and suddenly Katrina Lamont was staring at herself. Continue reading

“The Jinxed Pirate” Excerpt: Krutch Leeroy

We’re coming up on the home stretch for the next volume of the Graylands saga: The Jinxed Pirate. So here’s a small preview where we catch up with alleged pirate Krutch Leeroy as he finds himself in a tight spot with the authorities….


“If it’s any consolation, this isn’t how I wanted the day to go either.”

Krutch could see the barmaid didn’t believe him, as her eyes shifted to confusion before returning to fear. He sighed and tried again to find some kind of comfortable position.

The tavern’s crawlspace was the three foot gap between the floor and the dirt foundation underneath. The ground was harsh and stony, and the floorboards above were filthy and congealed with something sticky. The air was sweltering—it felt like the worst of summer already—but the stink was the worst. It was the inevitable stench one would expect in the dirt beneath a tavern packed nightly with drunks and worse.

He tried not to imagine what awfulness had festered over the years in the dismal space he was cramped in—spilled drinks, dropped food, vomit, piss, blood—and focus on more cheerful thoughts like the growing cramp in his back, sweat dripping beneath his clothes, or the Sentry Elite he was hiding from.

The floorboards creaked, and dirt from the soldier’s boots spilled through the cracks. There were only two—in the tavern, at least. There was no telling how many more were waiting outside. One called himself Wayland Dillon. The other didn’t speak, but Dillon introduced her as Ellen Wells. The names rang a bell, but Krutch could barely hear them.

Not that it mattered. He knew the questions being asked. It had been the same song and dance in dozens of other places: We’re looking for Krutch Leeroy. Have you seen him? If so, where? How long ago? Where’s he heading? What’s he up to?

Across from him, Arkady looked calm, even though his skin was shiny with sweat. For a moment, he pondered if he might be able to see his reflection in Arkady’s bald head. The young pirate’s lanky body fit into the crawlspace well enough, but his toned muscles were tensed. He was ready for anything if things turned ugly. Continue reading

Self-Published Book Award Scores & Commentary

awardEarlier this year, I entered The Ghost Princess in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

I didn’t win, but I have received my scores and commentary from the judges:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4 out of 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4 out of 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5 out of 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4 out of 5
Character Appeal and Development: 4 out of 5
Voice and Writing Style: 4 out of 5
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Review for “The Ghost Princess”

Unlimited Book Reviews was kind enough to review The Ghost Princess:

“This darkly humorous fantasy adventure addresses the question of what happens to those heroic Chosen Ones whose stories don’t end happily ever after.

“The Ghost Princess of the title is Katrina, who was once a heroic Princess out to regain her kingdom from the forces of darkness, but is now just a drunk trying to forget the past. Unfortunately for her, there’s a prophecy and some evil nutters want to sacrifice some girl under the full moon. So she finds herself being dragged back reluctantly into the hero-ing business as a bunch of bad guys and sort-of-bad guys converge in a way which will definitely not lead to a happy ending for anyone.

“There’s a good deal of over-the-top violence of the splashy variety from the start and throughout. I don’t like blood and gore, but the humour, good characters, and clever plot kept me reading. The writing is decent and generally well edited, although there were some annoying errors.”

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“The Ghost Princess” Excerpt

A brief excerpt from The Ghost Princess:


When it rains, it pours.

The thought crossed Katrina Lamont’s mind as she heard the rain outside. The raindrops were hitting the ground so hard she heard it over the crowd. She figured it just as well—she had no intention of leaving any time soon.

Rasul Kader didn’t follow after she stormed out of the bar. That was good for his sake, because if he had, she was certain she would’ve wound up punching him in the throat. The fresh air did her good, and after smoking two more cigarettes, she calmed down and got something to eat at the Pilgrim’s Stop.

However, any appetite she might have had dwindled upon seeing the three Sentries and their Mage. They were talking among themselves and paid no mind to her, but seeing a group of soldiers and magic-user— mostly likely on some mission or quest of their own—so soon after listening to Kader’s pitch made Katrina feel uneasy and tense.

Barely touching her food, she eventually returned to the bar, hoping Kader would be gone. He was thankfully nowhere to be found, so she decided to forego any sense of pacing herself and started hitting the ale as soon as she arrived. The first two pints stung her throat and made her stomach tumble, but she developed a pleasant buzz that made it fade away.

Unfortunately, drinking did little to ease the growing paranoia nagging her mind. She sat in the back corner, by herself, scanning the bar for anyone who might be staring at her. Most of the other patrons were regulars she recognized from previous nights, and she noted more than a few guys leering at her—all seemed as it should be.

Nevertheless, she couldn’t shake an increasing dread someone was watching her and Kader was only the beginning. The beginning of what, she didn’t know … nor did she want to.

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